Wasserman buys Brillstein and merges sports and entertainment | ET REALITY


For decades, Casey Wasserman has insisted that she would never get into the traditional entertainment business. Film and television seemed too incestuous to him (his grandfather, Lew Wasserman, reigned as Hollywood’s power man from the 1960s to the 1990s) and too financially challenging, he would say.

Never say never: Wasserman, 49, announced Monday that his sports-focused conglomerate, Wasserman, had closed a deal to buy Brillstein Entertainment Partners, a Hollywood content production and management firm. The terms were not disclosed.

Brillstein represents stars such as Brad Pitt, Tiffany Haddish, Adam Sandler, Florence Pugh, Rami Malek and Elizabeth Olsen. The firm also represents digital creators, podcasters and professional video game players. Brillstein, who scored a big hit in 1999 with “The Sopranos” and starred in “Real Time With Bill Maher,” recently signed a first-look deal with Paramount Television Studios and has projects in the works at Netflix, Disney and Amazon. .

What changed Mr. Wasserman’s mind?

“The media business is radically different than it was five years ago, and that, frankly, requires us to think differently about how we represent sports and music talent,” he said. “Musicians are on TikTok and athletes are on YouTube and people want to produce documentaries. “The lines have blurred a lot more than I think anyone would have expected even five years ago.”

He continued: “Athletes used to be monetized in sports, musicians in music, entertainment in the entertainment space, and those lines disappeared.”

Wasserman, founded in 2002 as Wasserman Media Group, has become one of the largest sports marketing and representation agencies in the world. After a failed expansion into managing musicians in the early 2000s, Wasserman tried again in recent years and now has a large music division, representing artists and bands such as Billie Eilish, Brandi Carlile, Drake and Coldplay .

Wasserman said he intended to expand Brillstein’s film and television production business, perhaps by acquiring additional film and television companies. “We want to take this first step correctly,” he said. “But this is a first step, not the last.”

Brillstein was founded in 1969 by Bernie Brillstein, a loquacious talent manager who died in 2008. With early clients including Lorne Michaels and Jim Henson, Brillstein built his firm into one of Hollywood’s leading management companies. His business model—managing stars and helping produce TV shows and movies for them—attracted competitors, some of whom (Anonymous Content, 3 Arts Entertainment) would eventually surpass Brillstein in size.

Jon Liebman, co-CEO of Brillstein, said Wasserman would provide the resources needed to expand, particularly in content production. “The business has become incredibly complex,” Liebman said. “Gone are the days when a manager could effectively serve customers without being connected to a larger organization.”

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